With classes online and all fall sports canceled area Ivy Leaguers are dealing with a new normal
These local Ivy League scholar-athletes are where they are today because they paid the price, working overtime and in overdrive, both on and off the field during their high school days.
Now, their academic and athletic futures are in limbo as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic. The Ivy League canceled all 2020 fall sports at all eight insitutions earlier this month.
That decision will wipe out the sophomore cross country season of Harvard’s Ben Hartvigsen, who won a pair of Class 4A individual state championships running for the Sarasota Sailors.
“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Hartvigsen said. “It’s up in the air right now. Just like it is for probably everybody else. I’m trying to figure out how to make the best of my free time … I’m kind of sick of free time.”
Like everyone else, Ivy League athletes saw their world change in March. Hartvigsen was gearing up for his freshman track and field season when all Ivy 2020 spring sports were canceled.
“It’s certainly been like a roller-coaster,” said Hartvigsen, who is leaning toward a career in applied mathematics. “Everything happened so fast. It wasn’t just sports.
“One week I’m in school at Harvard and running. One week later I’m packing up my dorm room and moving off campus. I had to go home and quarantine.”
Brett Gerber, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound junior defensive end and special teams standout at Yale University, has a similar dilemma. Gerber starred at both Bradenton Christian School and Manatee High before heading off to New Haven, Connecticut.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Gerber said. “I never thought anything like this would ever happen a year ago.
“We started hearing about it, and it almost seemed like a joke at first. Then it appeared more and more that it might affect the school year. We were still hoping that it would take care of itself and not become a big thing. We were in disbelief.”
Gerber was a key member of the 2019 Yale team that went 9-1 and won the Ivy League championship. The season also included surreal double-overtime victory over rival Harvard in a season finale.
Gerber plans to be back on Yale’s campus this fall studying molecular and cellular biology as the school is currently allowing 50 percent of students back on campus. As a student on track to go to medical school himself, Gerber believes he will be in good hands.
“If, God forbid, I were to catch the virus, I would have access to one of the best medical facilities in the world at Yale,” Gerber said. “We have some of the world’s leading public health doctors and epidemiologists.”
Former Cardinal Mooney football star Sam Koscho is a sophomore at Dartmouth who plays special teams for the football team. However, the 6-1, 190-pounder doesn’t know yet when he will actually return to Hanover, New Hampshire.
In the meantime, he’s pounding the weights and running the hills at the Celery Fields in Sarasota.
“Hopefully, I will be able to continue making progress,” Koscho said. “Dartmouth is staying ahead of things. Only 50 percent of students will be allowed to live on campus. Every student will have their own room. Dorms will also be set up for those who need to be quarantined.
“I was able to get a handle on school and football last fall. For now, I will continue to work online and hope everything works out.”
Koscho has a pair of Dartmouth teammates who are Manatee High products in senior defensive end Seth Walter and junior defensive back Josh Betts. Former Lakewood Ranch cross country and track standout Jonathan Reid is also a sophomore for the Big Green.
Kat Jordan, who led Venice High to its first-ever girls soccer state championship final in early March, will be on campus this fall as a freshman at Columbia University in the heart of New York City.
Although the fall soccer season has been canceled, freshmen and sophomores have been invited to stay on campus the first semester before giving way to juniors and seniors for the spring semester.
Despite being on campus, all of Jordan’s classes will be online. She must face a two-week quarantine after arriving as someone coming from Florida.
“I will be in my own dorm room taking online classes,” Jordan said. “I will be pretty much isolated. We will still get to practice in phases. First, solo and then small groups before being in larger groups.
“I’m still really excited. My coaches have done a great job of keeping me informed. I can talk things over with my teammates both at Columbia and Venice. I have a good system around me.”
No Ivy League athletes will lose any eligibility with everything shut down.
“At the end of the day, it’s frustrating,” Hartvigsen said. “I can’t imagine them doing anything else under these circumstances. But it’s still a major interruption.”